By July 29, 2008

Aiptek Z500 Plus HD Camcorder Review


I have to admit that I was a little skeptical about a Budget camcorder from a relatively unknown company. Usually these sort of devices are purchased purely based on their price and not quality. However could the Aiptek Z500 Plus buck the trend and provide both low price and high quality?

NOTE: Images in the review can be clicked to see a larger version.

The Aiptek AHD Z500 plus

The Aiptek AHD Z500 plus

What’s in the box?

  • Aiptek PocketDV AHD Z500 Plus
  • Mains Charger (with a mini USB connector)
  • User Manuals (Remote & Device)
  • Software Disc
  • USB to mini USB Cable
  • Remote Control
  • Wrist Strap
  • Carry Pouch
  • Component Cable
  • Composite Cable

Aiptek PocketDV AHD Z500 Plus Specification:

  • 1440 x 1080 H.264 Video @30fps
  • 1280 x 720 H.264 Video @60fps
  • Personal Media Player & Recorder
  • Up to 8 Mega Pixel Digital Camera
  • MOV Video Format
  • 3x Optical Zoom w/ Auto Focus
  • 2-inch Macro Zoom
  • Flash w/ Red Eye Reduction
  • Night Shot
  • LED Lights
  • HDTV Component Output
  • 2.4" Swivel-Reversible LCD
  • Easy Charging via AC or USB
  • 32GB SDHC Card Slot Expansion
  • Remote Control Included



Looking at the Aiptek, as you would expect from a pocket device it’s pretty small for what it is. The unit is not going to win any awards for great and innovative styling but it is pleasant enough to look at.

On the front of the device is obviously the lens. The great thing about this is the clear cover, meaning to clean all that has to be done is wipe the clear lens cover as oppose to cleaning the various parts of the lens. Below the lens are the LED lights for added light when recording and below that is the flash strobe for stills.

Aiptek Z500 front view

Aiptek Z500 front

The back
of the device is home to all of the controls etc. Working from the top the is a four way directional stick which controls things such as the flash and macro mode as well as navigating menus. To the left of this is the mode button and to the right the menu button. Below these is the shutter button used for capturing still images. The Zoom slider located below this which is also used for manual focus. The record button sits below this, with the AV connector/Headphone input situated below this. There is then a cover which when removes reveals the mini USB and the HD out inputs.

Aiptek Z500 rear controls

Aiptek Z500 back

The 2.4” LCD screen has 3 buttons attached on the left hand side these are playback controls used to fast-forward, rewind etc.

Aiptek Z500 open position

Aiptek Z500 open

On the bottom
of the device is the tripod socket and under the battery cover is the SD Card slot.

Aiptek Z500 bottom view

Aiptek Z500 bottom view


Highlights and Lowlights


+Ease of use

-Lack of features & Functions


As I mentioned earlier Aiptek was a brand I was unfamiliar with and therefore was rather skeptical when it came to the Z500 plus a HD camcorder, capable of shooting in 1080p and offering a 5mp stills feature to boot all for £250.

The Z500 is very easy to use right out of the box turning on as soon as the 2.4” LCD swivel screen is opened, the ease of use continues throughout filming with simple point and shoot controls.

The Z500 plus is a relatively plain device which is certainly small enough to fit inside a trouser pocket or a camera bag, it feels rather well built for a camcorder of this price range which is surprising. The device has very few buttons for you to worry about the menus are navigated quickly and easily with the four way directional stick.

The camcorder is offers 1080p Recording at 30fps, 720p at 30 and 60fps as well as standard DVD quality for non HD filming, footage is stored with the use of an SDHC card with support for up-to 32gb allowing for hours of 1080p footage or 1000’s stills. The bundled component cable allows for easy playback via a High Definition TV, while the USB cable and software allow for easy transfer between the device and a PC or Laptop.

A big giveaway in budget camcorders is often the audio quality.  The audio quality of the Z500 is pretty good, certainly bearable, but does not really match the quality of the picture which is a disappointment but the sound is certainly not as bad as other budget camcorders on the market. There is a speaker on the top of the device for playback using the device of course you can plug your headphones in, and sound quality when displayed on a TV is acceptable but nothing special.

Using the Z500 plus is very much and point and shoot affair with features such as macro mode and both auto and manual focus. On top of that  there’s a very useful night mode allowing for enhanced quality in low light situations this teamed with the LED lights works really well for a camera of this size and price and certainly improves the quality greatly. The 3x optical zoom is not fantastic and the zoom is pretty slow taking a good few seconds to go from wide to telephoto. With macro mode the camcorder is great at shooting both distant and close subject in great quality. The swivel is screen is a fair size and is pretty clear during playback and the handy controls on the side of the LCD are a great addition and add to the Z500’s Ease of use. The swivel screen also allows for easy viewing when using the camcorder to film yourself for video diaries etc.

The camcorder works well as a still camera offering a 5 megapixel shot and with a built in flash allowing for shots to be taken under all circumstances, the camera also offer a standard mode as well as classic and black and white shots however nothing special is on offer in this department. It also come with a voice recorder for notes etc. which is always handy.

Battery life for the device is not bad but not fantastic it will last around 70minutes with continual 720p recording and close to 200 shots using it as a stills camera.

The camcorder comes bundled with a number of things including the handy pouch with belt loop for keeping you Z500plus safe protected and within reach at all times. It also comes with a remote control which is a very useful thing to have when it comes to easy playback control as well as navigation etc. and it saves you having to fiddle around with the device all the time.

The software included on the disk is QuickTime player, HD-DV Decoder, Total Media Extreme, Photo impression and a E-Manual. Many of you I am sure will already have Quicktime therefore will find little use for the software on the disk but it is always worth checking it out and of course more advanced software can be purchased online.

I captured a few still shots and sample video for you to have a look at.

Aiptek Z500 still shot Aiptek Z500 still shot

Sample still shots from the Aiptek Z500 plus


During this review it was very difficult not to compare the Z500 Plus to other more expensive HD camcorders such as those from Sony however the price is the first thing that draws your attention to this camcorder and for £250 it does not disappoint, it is a great camcorder for someone wishing to upgrade to HD filming with ease of use and great point and shoot teamed with a 5 megapixel camera with flash. The lack of advanced features and functions means this is not a device for hardcore move makers looking for all the features and functions associated with higher end camcorders. Overall a great entry level HD camcorder but lacks the depth and functionality to compete with the higher end models. Perfect for amateur movie maker looking for an introduction to the world of High Definition Filming.


Review by: Nick

Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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